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Emmitsburg news-briefs

Danielle Ryan

(12/21) Abandoned property ordinance

The Board of Commissioners reviewed an amendment to Title 8 of the Code of Emmitsburg, entitled Health and Safety, specifically related to abandoned property during the December 6 Town meeting. The desire to make the amendment arose due to increasing issues with enforcing the ordinance. Many complaints from residents and members of the community were sent to Town staff concerning "eye sores" on town properties, specifically "junk cars," old appliances and equipment. At least ten vehicles have been reported by residents, and Town Planner Susan Cipperly has been compiling a list of violations. Many of the vehicles are unregistered, unlicensed and appear "run-down."

According to the current Ordinance, if a vehicle is un-drivable and isnít registered, then it is considered abandoned. If a resident has a vehicle like this, the vehicle needs to be placed in an enclosed building such as a garage or shed so it cannot be seen by adjacent properties. The concern is not only one of unsightliness for neighbors, but also poses a potential health and safety hazard as the vehicles could be housing wild animals such as rodents or stray cats.

The proposed amendment addressed the movement/placement of cars within a property or properties owned by the same resident. The resident responsible for the abandoned property may not move or relocate it to any other site for storage if it can still be seen, uncovered by the adjacent property , and the relocation will be considered a continuation of the original offense and will be subject to daily fines. The amendment also hopes to reiterate the definition of abandoned property as well as the definition of proper cover for the vehicle, meaning tarp, car cover, or enclosed building.

Town staff will continue to review the ordinance and will re-visit it at a future meeting.

Budget transfer approved

The Board of Commissioners approved a $10,000 budget transfer within the Capital Fund on December 6. This transfer includes an increase by $2,500 to department 30 (Public Works Streets) & activity 612 (Signs), which will account for the cost of replacing the welcome sign outside of town.

An increase by $7,000 to department 30 (Public Works Streets) & activity 999 (General) was also approved. This is simply a budget transfer. When the Town made the last payment for the doughboy statue, the money was allocated to the parks item when it should have gone to the streets item.

An increase by $500 to department 15 (Buildings) & activity 333 (Solar Field Project) was approved. The Town had the usage/production of the solar field reviewed by the Solar Attorney, so this cost was considered an added expense to the solar account.

Finally, a decrease by $10,000 to department 30 (Public Works Streets) & activity 374 (LED Upgrade) was approved. The Town pulled money from this fund in order to transfer to the aforementioned items. The LED account had sufficient funds in the approximate amount of $61,000.

Residents concerned over crosswalks

Residents voiced their concern over the timing at the crosswalks and intersections on the town square, as it poses dangerous crossing of pedestrians from one side of the street to the other. Town Manager Cathy Willets previously expressed the concern to the State Highway Administration, but the SHA had no intentions to change it. However, Willets recommended that both the Board and the public express their concern with the matter. The Board could then direct town staff to issue a letter to the SHA to modify crosswalks, cameras and timers.

Commissioners agreed that the intersection and crosswalks needed to be safer but also accommodate vehicles trying to cross traffic when making a left hand turn (specifically on East Main Street). Commissioner Sweeney proposed the installation of a green arrow on East Main to help vehicles cross traffic. The idea of installing red light cameras, to monitor people running red lights, was also discussed.

Willets recommended the Board have photos, public comment and statistics of foot traffic and vehicle traffic ready to present to the SHA, as they will be attending a town meeting in March.

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